Earlier this week, Hall of Fame outfielder Carl Yastrzemski told the media that he believes that DH David Ortiz is second to only Ted Williams as the greatest hitter in Red Sox history. Many people believe that Yaz is the next-best hitter after Teddy Ballgame. I want to determine who is the better hitter.
To do this, we have to look at the wOBA or weighted on base average which weighs the values of the many different ways a player gets on base based on each way’s ability to produce a run and puts them into a single analytical number. The formula for this statistic is listed below:
wOBA = (0.690×uBB + 0.722×HBP + 0.888×1B + 1.271×2B + 1.616×3B +
2.101×HR) / (AB + BB – IBB + SF + HBP)
The graph of the wOBA for Ortiz, Yaz, and the average player at each of the ages that they have played at can be seen in the graph below:
Although it was only a slightly better wOBA in his best ten seasons (non-consecutive), Ortiz’s .409 is superior to Yaz’s wOBA of .404. I only used their best 10 seasons because Ortiz’s career is not over yet so Yastrzemski would have a larger sample size of seasons. However, these numbers are just the beginning. Below is a graph of each player’s wOBA for a specific year compared to the league average of that year:
Using this graph, I determined each player’s ten seasons in which they had the greatest range between their wOBA and the league’s wOBA. In this situation, Yaz had a .107 greater wOBA than the league did in those ten seasons, compared to Ortiz’s .092. That is a .15 difference, which is greater than the .05 difference for the wOBA for each player’s ages shown in the first graph.
If I could take either one of these players based solely on offensive production, I would choose Yaz because his production compared to the league average of the era that he played in is greater than that of Ortiz.
Thanks for the selfless comments Yaz, but you are the second-best hitter in Red Sox history.